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“This is the Velo Era, where you throw hard and throw for strikes.”

 

10 Degrees: Jered Weaver's fastball can't even break a Texas speed limit, and what it means for his future

  

By Jeff Passan12 hours agoYahoo Sports 

The radar gun never lies. It is baseball's ultimate arbitrator, impartial by nature and honest to the point of brutality. It has rendered every Jered Weaver start this season a festival of incredulity, as if there's no way he really could be throwing this slowly.

Only here we are, in May, four full weeks of the baseball season past, and Weaver – 20-game winner and Cy Young runner-up within the past half-decade – is averaging around 83 miles per hour with his fastball. Considering the biggest in-season leap from April to the end of the year last year was 1.2 mph, the prospect of the 32-year-old Weaver regaining his velocity grows unlikelier by the day.

In certain parts of Texas, Weaver's fastball could travel along the interstate at its regular speed and not even draw an eye-blink from a state trooper, let alone a ticket. Of the 101 regular starting pitchers this season who throw changeups, 63 have intentionally slow pitches that move faster on average than a Weaver fastball. Since baseball installed pitch-tracking systems in its stadiums a decade ago, no right-handed non-knuckleball pitcher has thrown a fastball slower than Weaver this season.

The starkest change in baseball over the last decade hasn't been the proliferation of defensive shifts or the implementation of instant replay. In seven years, the mean fastball has gained 1 mph, up to 91.9. Relief pitchers average 93 with their fastballs. This is the Velo Era, where you throw hard and throw for strikes. Which leaves …

 

1. Jered Weaver trying on a Members Only jacket and popping the collar on his California Angels polo, because he's stuck in 83. It's not like this is all that new a phenomenon, either. As recently as 2011, Weaver's fastball sat around 90 mph. He never would win with pure velocity, but with his complement of pitches and funky delivery in which he steps across his body, Weaver could win so long as he commanded the ball well.

 

And he did, which is why when he started dipping to 88 the next season there wasn't immediate panic. It spent the next two years from 86-87 before cratering around 3 mph this spring and putting Weaver in some interesting company.

The only non-knuckleball pitcher to throw a slower fastball than Weaver since the PITCHf/x system started tracking velocity was Jamie Moyer. He was left-handed and closer to Social Security than his draft date. Baseball Info Solutions has Weaver's average fastball this season at 83.1 mph. Brooks Baseball, using a slightly different interpretation of the data, says 84.2 mph. Either way, it's bad, and perhaps nothing quantifies it as well as Brooks' data: The hardest fastball Weaver has thrown this year registered 87.81 mph. Of the 122 other pitchers who throw four-seam fastballs, 120 have a higher average velocity than Weaver's peak.

At least Weaver's descent to his current spot has gone in a linear fashion, without any of the frustrating gain-lost, gain-lost drama …

2. Justin Masterson has endured since arriving in 2008. For a 6-foot-6 monster, Masterson's fastball left his hand at a tepid 89.5 mph. He added three mph the next year and bounced up and down a mile or so a year. After spending April 2012 at 89.8 mph, he jumped to 92.1 in April 2013, only to fall back to 88.9 in the first month last season. His 1.7-mph dip this year, down to 87.2 mph, is the sixth-largest among starters who pitched last April, according to Baseball Info Solutions' data.

After Masterson turned down a three-year, $51 million contract with Cleveland, he put up the worst season of his career last year, failing to replace his lost velocity with any semblance of control. Boston signed him to a one-year, $9.5 million make-good deal this offseason, and while he has managed to keep the ball in the stadium, the poor velocity isn't playing.

Masterson still can run it up – he maxed out at 91.7 mph on Friday, according to Brooks – but an average fastball of 87.5, on Brooks' algorithm that registers speeds higher than Baseball Info Solutions' no less, does not portend well, especially for a pitcher whose command waxes and wanes like Masterson's. It's the same issue …

3. Tim Lincecum faces as he copes with the single biggest velocity dip among starters this season: 2.5 mph. His drop ties that of Homer Bailey, who needs Tommy John surgery, but is actually bigger percentage-wise because he had less velocity to lose.

Lincecum's fastball today averages 87.3 mph. It's 0.1 mph faster than Masterson's, behind that of Jason Marquis, 103rd out of 112 qualifying pitchers. It's a dozen miles per hour off his peak, when Lincecum was unhittable at the University of Washington before he won a pair of Cy Young Awards with the San Francisco Giants.

His reinvention – the reinvention of any player whose velocity disappears – depends on his ability to command his pitches, and that still hasn't materialized. Lincecum at least has shown a willingness to adjust his pitch selection and work backward, throwing his changeup 30.8 percent of the time – fourth most among starters – and nearly doubling his curveball usage. If his fastball is no good, he may as well ditch it. That's tougher when you're like …

4. Mark Melancon and pretty much have only one pitch to throw. Melancon last year relied on a cutter about half the time, splitting the rest of his pitches between a four-seam fastball and curveball. He's ditched the fastball after it went from 92.8 mph last year to 88, albeit in a tiny sample. The cutter has a far bigger sample and is nearly as bad: 88.5 mph after sitting around 92 last year.

It could be Melancon, 30, is learning to pitch with lesser stuff. He has turned in four straight scoreless innings after imploding against the Cubs. The Pirates certainly could use Tony Watson in the closer's role, and Arquimedes Caminero is the second-hardest-throwing pitcher in baseball this season behind Aroldis Chapman.

Caminero's 98.6-mph has a full 10 miles per hour on Melancon's cutter, and that 10 miles buys a margin of error Melancon would love. Instead, he'll hope late movement does the same for him as it does for …

5. Koji Uehara with his split-fingered fastball. Uehara is the oldest player here, 40, and his fastball has ridden a parabola since he arrived in the major leagues in 2009. It sat at 86.9 mph that year, jumped to 88.1 the next, spent three years around 89, dipped back to 88.2 last season and averages 86.8 mph now.

As much of an issue as the velocity could be, what makes it so fascinating is that he's using his fastball as a changeup and his changeup as a fastball. Uehara has thrown his 78.5-mph split-finger fastball more than 75 percent of his pitches this season. And while that's likely to change, as Uehara hasn't even crossed the 10-inning threshold this season, it's a novel solution for the wear that time takes on the pitching arm.

It provides a great contrast, too, to …

6. Danny Salazar, who's more or less the Bugatti Veyron of starting pitchers, his speed barely street legal. Salazar, remember, was the rookie whom Cleveland started in the 2013 wild-card game and came out firing 100-mph darts. Something happened the next spring: Salazar wasn't throwing nearly as hard.

He was perfectly acceptable over the 20 starts he did make in 2014 with the Indians – a 4.25 ERA softened by 120 strikeouts in 110 innings – but this wasn't Salazar, world beater. His velocity last April was 93.6, and it ticked up only a mile at the end of the season. Now Salazar is sitting at 95-97 and hitting 100 again. His 2.4-mph gain on average velocity from last April is the biggest in the major leagues.

No surprise that Salazar leads all starters in baseball with 13.26 strikeouts per nine innings. The only other pitcher above the unlucky number: Indians teammate Carlos Carrasco, a fellow 2015 gainer with an additional 1.5 mph on his fastball from last April, at 13.21 per nine. They're the sort of numbers …

7. Mike Pelfrey never will approach, but at least he's looking more like his pre-injury self. Pelfrey, who arrived in New York with the hype of the next great Mets pitcher because of his big fastball, spent parts of five inconsistent seasons trying to show he was more than what the radar gun said.

Last season tested that: After hurrying back too quickly from Tommy John surgery, Pelfrey ended up with an irritated ulnar nerve that warranted surgery. The nerve pain had shot down his arm and dragged his fastball with it, all the way to 90.8 mph.

At the end of spring training this year, the Twins announced they would shift Pelfrey to their bullpen. He suggested they trade him instead. The Twins held tight, and the return of his 93-mph fastball validated them. Minnesota ended up putting Pelfrey in its rotation April 11, and he's got a sub-1.00 ERA over his past three starts, including seven shutout innings against a Kansas City offense hotter in April than anyone. The Royals have benefitted from velo jumps in the unlikeliest spot, too, with …

8. Chris Young of all people. That is the 6-foot-10-but-doesn't-throw-90 Chris Young, whose velocity ended up in the mid-80s and resigned him to the minor leagues until he figured out the problem himself.

As Andy McCullough detailed in The Kansas City Star, Young self-diagnosed thoracic outlet syndrome as the cause of his severe shoulder pain. A doctor took out a rib, relieving pressure that sent pain to the shoulder, and Young remembered what it felt like to throw harder. Not hard, mind you. His hitless, five-inning spot start for the suspended Edinson Volquez on Friday featured a fastball that Brooks said averaged 87.6 mph and topped out at 89.1. It's the kind of velocity …

9. Doug Fister has brought to the mound this season, a 2.1-mph dip that alongside Washington teammate Jordan Zimmermann's 1.5-mph drop isn't exactly the best news for the Nationals and is far worse for the free-agent prospects of Fister and Zimmermann.

Fister, 31, is set to be a free agent for the first time this offseason, and nothing has gone well. Over four starts, he hasn't generated the sort of ground balls he'd like and walked nearly twice as many as his career average. You want to have a 401k, not 4.01 Ks per nine like Fister.

Zimmermann, 29 this month, has even greater stakes. He came into this season likely to be the first pitcher with Tommy John surgery on his résumé to fetch a $100 million contract. Now, just about everything has gone wrong. Balls in play are dropping. Runners aren't getting stranded. Zimmermann's strikeout rate plummeted to less than six a game. His ERA of 4.88 doesn't scream nine figures. It could be the velo, or it could be the velo and something else, as seems to be the case with …

10. Jered Weaver and his straight fastball. According to Brooks' data, Weaver's fastball doesn't even move half an inch horizontally; straight fastballs can have the effect of looking like they're rising. So it can behoove pitchers with straight fastballs to throw them up in the zone and get hitters to chase what looks like a good pitch.

At 83 mph, Weaver is testing its effectiveness above the strike zone, and the early results aren't great. Of the 20 pitches hitters have swung at over the plate but above the strike zone, they've missed on just one. Weaver's whiff percentage in that area last season was 8.6 percent and 16 percent during his previous years.

Reinvention is the only way to save Weaver, unless like Pelfrey and Young it's an injury keeping him from mustering up anything more in his well-used shoulder. At some juncture, Weaver's survival instinct will kick in – perhaps soon, with one-strikeout games bookending his other starts this season. When it does, he'll have to answer a difficult question: Is he ready to put in the work necessary to move from crafty kid to out-and-out junkballer, who simply outthinks the hitters for a living?

It's there in him: the pitching savvy, the deception, all the stuff that made him so great when all he had in his arm was 90. Velo is king. It's why scouts raved about Adam Ottavino when he was up three mph from last year … only to suffer an elbow injury. Or why Jordan Walden's 2.5-mph drop from last April put the Cardinals on edge about what to expect from him before he was placed on the disabled list on Sunday.

So it goes in the Velo Era. If you don't throw hard, you get questioned, and even if you do throw hard, any falloff creates speculation. Jered Weaver went off a cliff this spring. The climb back to the top doesn't look promising.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/10-degrees--jered-weaver-s-fastball-can-t-even-break-a-texas-speed-limit--and-what-it-means-for-his-future-222613753.html

 

“if you want to see how your team stacks up to the league as a whole in certain draft tendencies.”

 

MLB Team Draft Analysis, 2010-2014 (or EYWTKAHYTDBWTATA)

By cookiedabookie on May 4, 2015

Hey everyone, am I the only one getting the draft season itch? Given the injuries and lack of top tier talent, it may have taken longer than usual for some. But we are in the final month before the draft, so it's almost prospect nerd Christmas in June.

For the past two years, I've put together a massive spreadsheet outlining the results of all 30 MLB teams in the first four rounds over the past five years. I have decided to update the spreadsheet this year. It is split into three graphs below.

I want to be clear, this just shows how each team has tended to draft over a five year period in the first four rounds. I would focus more on the total population data for each team to identify specific trends, especially as they compare to league averages. This year, I've decided to share the information in Z-score form, rather than percentage form. I think this better illustrates how teams specifically differ from the league as a whole. Looking at these total populations, which range from 18 to 36 picks, you can make some assumptions:

Anything in the z-score range of -0.50 to 0.50, is pretty much a coin toss. Anything between -0.50 and -1.25, or 0.50 and 1.25 shows a possible to likely pattern. And anything in either the -1.25 to -2.00 or 1.25 and 2.00 is a strong pattern. Anything over 2.00 or under -2.00 means there is a very strong pattern in how that team drafts. For example, the San Francisco Giants are almost two full standard deviations above the rest of the league in picking college players, while the Blue Jays are on the opposite end of the spectrum at two deviations above the league in picking high school talent.

Anyway, all that and so much more is available in the tables below. The most valuable data is in Table 1 (especially the first five columns), and Table 2. Table 3 is a more in-depth breakdown of each rounds pick mix - some may find it useful, or at least interesting. Others not so much. Table 4 shows MLB averages, which is valuable if you want to see how your team stacks up to the league as a whole in certain draft tendencies.

And a disclaimer: this was all done by hand, so there may be small errors. If you notice any, please let me know and I will edit. Thanks!

With all that said, here is EVERYTHING you wanted to know about how your team drafts, but were too afraid to ask:

Table 1: Level of drafted players, Z-scores (2010-2014)

Team

Total picks

HS

College

Bats

Arms

R1 HS

R1 College

R2 HS

R2 College

R3 HS

R3 College

R3 HS

R3 College

Arizona

25

.74

-.74

-.86

.86

-.88

.88

1.28

-1.28

.68

-.68

.24

-.24

Atlanta

21

-.56

.56

.36

-.36

.45

-.45

-1.42

1.42

-.01

.01

.24

-.24

Baltimore

18

.30

-.30

-.42

.42

1.63

-1.63

-.77

.77

-.01

.01

.24

-.24

Boston

28

-.21

.21

-.57

.57

-.82

.82

-.51

.51

1.38

-1.38

.24

-.24

Chicago (N)

22

-1.01

1.01

-.32

.32

-1.41

1.41

.27

-.27

-.01

.01

-.67

.67

Chicago (A)

24

-1.21

1.21

-1.10

1.10

-1.13

1.13

.16

-.16

-1.40

1.40

-.67

.67

Cincinnati

24

-.90

.90

.54

-.54

-1.13

1.13

.27

-.27

-.71

.71

-.67

.67

Colorado

26

-.53

.53

.13

-.13

-.47

.47

.53

-.53

-.82

.82

-.67

.67

Cleveland

21

.48

-.48

-.11

.11

-.56

.56

.86

-.86

-.01

.01

.24

-.24

Detroit

20

-1.87

1.87

-.86

.86

-.73

.73

-1.29

1.29

-.71

.71

-1.59

1.59

Houston

25

-.71

.71

-.46

.46

.19

-.19

-.51

.51

-.24

.24

-.67

.67

Kansas City

23

.46

-.46

-.94

.94

-.88

.88

-.51

.51

2.07

-2.07

1.16

-1.16

Los Angeles (A)

21

-.56

.56

-1.98

1.98

1.12

-1.12

.53

-.53

-.82

.82

-1.59

1.59

Los Angeles (N)

21

.13

-.13

-.11

.11

.84

-.84

.27

-.27

-1.40

1.40

1.16

-1.16

Miami

24

1.51

-1.51

1.36

-1.36

1.12

-1.12

-1.29

1.29

1.58

-1.58

2.99

-2.99

Milwaukee

24

.00

.00

-.69

.69

-.14

.14

1.19

-1.19

-.71

.71

-.67

.67

Minnesota

25

-.71

.71

-1.64

1.64

.84

-.84

-1.42

1.42

-1.40

1.40

.24

-.24

New York (N)

22

-.03

.03

1.02

-1.02

.28

-.28

-.12

.12

-.24

.24

-.67

.67

New York (A)

22

.96

-.96

1.47

-1.47

.84

-.84

-.12

.12

-.01

.01

1.16

-1.16

Oakland

23

-.17

.17

1.20

-1.20

.28

-.28

-1.42

1.42

.68

-.68

.24

-.24

Philadelphia

24

.30

-.30

.95

-.95

1.83

-1.83

-.40

.40

.91

-.91

-.67

.67

Pittsburgh

24

.61

-.61

.54

-.54

-.14

.14

1.84

-1.84

-.71

.71

.24

-.24

St. Louis

29

-.57

.57

.30

-.30

-1.28

1.28

.53

-.53

-.01

.01

-.67

.67

San Diego

29

-.07

.07

.98

-.98

.35

-.35

.16

-.16

-1.40

1.40

.24

-.24

San Francisco

21

-1.94

1.94

.83

-.83

-1.13

1.13

-1.29

1.29

-1.40

1.40

-.67

.67

Seattle

22

-.03

.03

1.02

-1.02

-.73

.73

.27

-.27

1.08

-1.08

-1.59

1.59

Tampa Bay

35

1.03

-1.03

1.39

-1.39

.38

-.38

-.12

.12

1.38

-1.38

1.16

-1.16

Texas

28

1.86

-1.86

.83

-.83

1.34

-1.34

1.19

-1.19

.68

-.68

1.16

-1.16

Toronto

36

2.12

-2.12

-2.06

2.06

1.07

-1.07

1.84

-1.84

1.49

-1.49

1.16

-1.16

Washington

20

-1.87

1.87

-.86

.86

-2.11

2.11

-2.08

2.08

-.71

.71

-.67

.67

 

Table 2: Position of drafted players, Z-scores (2010-2014)

Team

Prep Bats

College Bats

C

1B

2B

3B

SS

OF

Prep Arms

College Arms

LHP

RHP

Arizona

1.92

-1.92

-.63

.44

.28

-1.76

-.86

2.92

-.27

.27

-.86

.86

Atlanta

-.49

.49

.35

-1.07

-.90

1.22

.15

-.25

-.49

.49

-.39

.39

Baltimore

1.11

-1.11

1.17

.82

-.90

-.39

.99

-1.32

-.49

.49

-.39

.39

Boston

.21

-.21

1.17

.19

1.07

.06

-1.06

-1.32

-.41

.41

-.48

.48

Chicago (N)

-1.33

1.33

1.77

.44

-.90

-.67

-.86

.10

-.27

.27

-.03

.03

Chicago (A)

-.55

.55

-.50

.61

.41

-1.76

-.72

-.53

-1.14

1.14

-.39

.39

Cincinnati

-.87

.87

-.91

-1.07

.01

1.61

-.19

-.05

-.67

.67

-1.16

1.16

Colorado

-.04

.04

.02

-1.07

.92

-.92

-.19

1.40

-.94

.94

.38

-.38

Cleveland

-.24

.24

-.63

.44

.28

-.67

.38

1.04

1.10

-1.10

.77

-.77

Detroit

-.92

.92

2.67

.82

-.90

.97

-2.09

-.14

-1.90

1.90

-.63

.63

Houston

-1.47

1.47

-1.83

1.68

-.90

.23

.15

.61

.35

-.35

-.80

.80

Kansas City

.66

-.66

.84

-1.07

.41

.67

.65

-1.58

.35

-.35

2.25

-2.25

Los Angeles (A)

.66

-.66

-1.83

1.45

3.04

-1.76

-.03

-.53

-.71

.71

.09

-.09

Los Angeles (N)

.84

-.84

-.63

1.95

.28

.43

-.86

-.85

-.67

.67

.77

-.77

Miami

1.74

-1.74

-.23

-.06

1.46

-1.03

1.20

-.53

-.27

.27

2.14

-2.14

Milwaukee

.30

-.30

-.63

1.95

-.90

-.67

-.86

1.04

-.12

.12

-.80

.80

Minnesota

.43

-.43

-.33

-1.07

2.05

-.39

.99

-1.32

-.91

.91

.28

-.28

New York (N)

-.45

.45

.02

.10

.92

-.92

.75

-.77

.45

-.45

-1.81

1.81

New York (A)

.53

-.53

-.97

-1.07

.79

1.37

-.33

-.31

.81

-.81

1.74

-1.74

Oakland

.14

-.14

-.97

1.09

-.90

.58

1.43

-.31

-.99

.99

.56

-.56

Philadelphia

.14

-.14

.74

.01

-.90

1.37

-.33

-.98

.16

-.16

1.03

-1.03

Pittsburgh

-.87

.87

.94

.10

-.90

-1.76

-.19

1.40

2.29

-2.29

-.52

.52

St. Louis

-.43

.43

-.23

-1.07

.67

.43

.38

-.53

-.58

.58

.22

-.22

San Diego

-1.04

1.04

.29

-1.07

-.21

.81

-.64

.21

1.35

-1.35

-1.22

1.22

San Francisco

-2.05

2.05

.17

1.45

-.90

-.85

.99

-.53

-.99

.99

-.23

.23

Seattle

-.45

.45

.94

.10

.01

.76

-1.14

-.77

.45

-.45

2.14

-2.14

Tampa Bay

.74

-.74

-.74

-.38

-.36

-.27

.71

.61

.56

-.56

-.17

.17

Texas

1.45

-1.45

-.33

-1.07

-.16

.29

.22

.45

1.35

-1.35

-.03

.03

Toronto

1.38

-1.38

.57

-1.07

-.90

.43

-2.09

1.04

2.31

-2.31

-.17

.17

Washington

-1.60

1.60

1.17

.82

-.90

.97

2.53

1.04

-1.36

1.36

-.63

.63

 

Table 3: Type of drafted players by round, Z-scores (2010-2014)

Team

1st Round HS Arms

1st Round HS Bats

1st Round College Arms

1st Round College Bats

2nd Round HS Arms

2nd Round HS Bats

2nd Round College Arms

2nd Round College Bats

Arizona

.01

-1.14

2.67

-1.51

.23

1.31

-.67

-.86

Atlanta

-.35

.94

1.11

-1.51

-.26

-1.46

-.57

2.54

Baltimore

1.10

.94

-.28

-1.51

-.94

.16

.14

.84

Boston

-.13

-.92

.47

.46

-.12

-.49

.42

.16

Chicago (N)

-.76

-1.01

.32

1.23

-.12

.48

.42

-.86

Chicago (A)

-1.80

.43

.65

.62

.23

-.07

.54

-.86

Cincinnati

-.19

-1.25

-.12

1.33

-.94

1.44

-1.28

1.18

Colorado

-.99

.43

1.42

-.80

-.26

.96

.14

-.86

Cleveland

-.76

.07

-.67

1.23

2.15

-1.46

-1.28

.42

Detroit

-1.80

.94

2.50

-1.51

-.12

-1.46

1.27

.16

Houston

.62

-.41

-.89

.62

.71

-1.46

-.43

1.18

Kansas City

-.89

-.20

.94

.09

-.12

-.49

1.27

-.86

Los Angeles (A)

.27

1.15

-.67

-.59

1.81

-1.46

.14

-.86

Los Angeles (N)

.62

.43

.65

-1.51

-.12

.48

.42

-.86

Miami

1.31

.07

-.67

-.59

-.94

-.49

2.13

-.86

Milwaukee

.01

-.20

.07

.09

.43

.96

-.57

-.86

Minnesota

.62

.43

-.12

-.80

-.94

-.65

2.27

-.86

New York (N)

-.76

1.15

-.67

.32

1.12

-1.46

-.22

.42

New York (A)

.62

.43

-1.66

.62

-.94

.96

.14

-.01

Oakland

-1.80

2.23

-.67

.32

-.94

-.65

.85

.84

Philadelphia

1.83

.43

-.51

-1.51

-.36

-.07

-.07

.60

Pittsburgh

-.89

.75

.07

.09

1.81

.16

-1.28

-.86

St. Louis

-.13

-1.50

.47

.95

-.26

.96

.14

-.86

San Diego

1.83

-1.46

-1.66

1.15

-.94

1.31

-1.28

1.33

San Francisco

-.59

-.83

.65

.62

-.94

-.49

-.43

2.20

Seattle

-.35

-.57

-.28

1.05

-.94

1.44

-1.28

1.18

Tampa Bay

-.95

1.47

-.44

.00

-.43

.36

.31

-.22

Texas

.62

1.06

-1.09

-.44

.43

.96

-.57

-.86

Toronto

1.62

-.31

-.03

-1.13

2.67

-.85

-1.28

-.86

Washington

-.59

-2.09

.65

1.69

-.94

-1.46

1.91

.42

 

Table 3: Type of drafted players by round, Z-scores (2010-2014) – CONTINUED

Team

3rd Round HS Arms

3rd Round HS Bats

3rd Round College Arms

3rd Round College Bats

4th round HS Arms

4th round HS Bats

4th round College Arms

4th round College Bats

Arizona

.29

.81

-.60

-.28

-.75

.67

.75

-1.09

Atlanta

.29

-.14

-.60

.55

-.75

.67

.75

-1.09

Baltimore

.29

-.14

1.02

-1.11

-.75

.67

-.23

-.04

Boston

-.99

1.75

.21

-1.11

.75

-.20

.75

-1.09

Chicago (N)

.29

-1.09

-1.40

2.22

.75

-1.08

1.73

-1.09

Chicago (A)

-.99

-1.09

1.29

.28

.75

-1.08

.75

-.04

Cincinnati

.29

-1.09

1.02

-.28

-.75

-.20

.75

-.04

Colorado

.07

-1.09

.61

.28

-.75

-.20

-1.21

2.07

Cleveland

.29

.81

.21

-1.11

.75

-.20

-.23

-.04

Detroit

-.99

-.14

-.60

1.39

-.75

-1.08

1.73

-.04

Houston

.07

-1.09

.61

.28

-.75

-.20

.75

-.04

Kansas City

2.84

-.14

-.60

-1.11

.75

.67

-1.21

-.04

Los Angeles (A)

-.99

-.30

1.96

-1.11

-.75

-1.08

1.73

-.04

Los Angeles (N)

-.99

-1.09

.21

1.39

-.75

1.54

-.23

-1.09

Miami

-.99

2.29

-.83

-.52

-.75

3.29

-2.18

-1.09

Milwaukee

.29

-1.09

1.82

-1.11

-.75

-.20

-.23

1.02

Minnesota

-.99

-1.09

1.02

.55

.75

-.20

.75

-1.09

New York (N)

.07

.49

-.06

-.42

-.75

-.20

-1.21

2.07

New York (A)

1.56

-.14

-1.40

.55

-.75

1.54

-.23

-1.09

Oakland

1.56

-.14

-.60

-.28

-.75

.67

-.23

-.04

Philadelphia

-.99

1.28

-.73

.28

-.75

-.20

-.23

1.02

Pittsburgh

.29

-1.09

-1.40

2.22

2.24

-1.08

-1.21

1.02

St. Louis

-.99

.81

1.02

-1.11

-.75

-.20

-1.21

2.07

San Diego

-.99

-1.09

1.82

-.28

.75

-.20

-1.21

1.02

San Francisco

-.99

-1.09

-.60

2.22

.75

-1.08

.75

-.04

Seattle

1.75

.26

-.83

-.52

-.75

-1.08

.75

1.02

Tampa Bay

.29

1.75

-1.40

-.28

2.24

-.20

-1.21

-.04

Texas

.29

.81

-.60

-.28

-.75

1.54

-.23

-1.09

Toronto

1.14

.49

-.73

-.42

2.24

-.20

-.23

-1.09

Washington

-.99

.81

.21

-.28

.75

-1.08

.75

-.04

 

Table 4: League-Average Tendencies 2010-2014

Tendency

League Average

Total HS Picks

46%

Total College Picks

54%

1st round HS

52%

1st round College

48%

2nd round HS

53%

2nd round College

47%

3rd round HS

40%

3rd round College

60%

4th round HS

35%

4th round College

65%

1st Round % HS Arms

25%

1st Round % HS Bats

28%

1st Round % College Arms

24%

1st Round % College Bats

24%

2nd Round % HS Arms

23%

2nd Round % HS Bats

30%

2nd Round % College Arms

30%

2nd Round % College Bats

17%

3rd Round % HS Arms

16%

3rd Round % HS Bats

23%

3rd Round % College Arms

35%

3rd Round % College Bats

27%

4th round % HS Arms

10%

4th round % HS Bats

25%

4th round % College Arms

45%

4th round % College Bats

21%

% Bats

49%

% Prep Bats

55%

% College Bats

45%

% C

15%

% 1B

7%

% 2B

8%

% 3B

16%

% SS

17%

% OF

39%

% Arms

51%

% Prep Arms

38%

% College Arms

62%

% LHP

25%

% RHP

75%

http://www.minorleagueball.com/2015/5/4/8541843/mlb-team-draft-analysis-2010-2014-or-eywtkahytdbwtata

 

“I saw other guys go through it, but you never really picture yourself going through it,”

·        Ex-Red Sox farmhand Alex Hassan enduring baseball purgatory

  • ·        By Brian MacPherson Journal Sports Writer  May 3, 2015

To everyone else, it’s a line of agate type, an afterthought in a list of transactions, just a minor part of baseball’s arcane rules governing player movement.

To Alex Hassan, it’s been a nightmare.

“I saw other guys go through it, but you never really picture yourself going through it,” said Hassan, who made his major-league debut with the Red Sox last season but found himself on the move starting last November. “You never really imagine the worst-case scenario happening to you.”

Three times since the start of spring training, solely by virtue of being a fringy major-league player, Hassan has been all but barred from baseball activities. He has been able to do no more than what he spent this past weekend doing -- running outside, working out in whatever gym he could find, taking dry swings inside his apartment in Round Rock, Texas, just in case that helps him maintain his rhythm.

Three times since the start of spring training, Hassan has found himself designated for assignment -- baseball purgatory. The latest episode ended Saturday when he was claimed on waivers by the Oakland Athletics and optioned to Triple-A Nashville, the affiliate from which the Texas Rangers had claimed him on waivers just a month ago.

Hassan is not the first player to find his rhythm on the field disrupted by the red tape that goes with being designated for assignment.

Outfielder Casper Wells changed teams four times during the 2013 season, including three times in the month of April alone. He’d hit .246 in his big-league career to that point, playing somewhat regularly as a reserve in Detroit and Seattle. He hit a combined .126 in a total of 102 plate appearances for three different teams in 2013.

Unlike the service-time rules that saw Chicago’s Kris Bryant spend 12 needless days in the minors, the fiasco Hassan has endured benefits neither teams nor players. It seems like an unintended consequence of complicated transaction rules. Indications are that the Major League Baseball Players’ Association will raise the topic in the next round of collective bargaining, seeking a solution that doesn’t wreck a player’s season for procedural reasons.

The most common way a team clears space on its 40-man roster is by designating a player for assignment -- giving that team 10 days to trade the player or pass him through waivers. If no team puts in a claim, that player can be removed from the 40-man roster and assigned to the minor leagues. If another team claims the player on waivers, that team is assigned the rights to that player -- but that player inherently is at risk for being designated again if his new team 

 

 The Red Sox originally designated Hassan for assignment in mid-November to make room to add four prospects eligible for the Rule 5 draft to their 40-man roster. The Oakland Athletics claimed Hassan off waivers on Nov. 17 -- and then promptly put him back on waivers, trying to sneak him through and stash him in their minor-league system. It didn’t work. Baltimore made a claim on Hassan and received his rights on Nov. 20.

Neither of those moves caused any problems for Hassan, who was back home in the Boston area for the offseason. He wasn’t going to leave for spring training for two months, anyway. He just had to make arrangements to live in Florida rather than Arizona for February and March.

Many minor-league players live in team-arranged hotel accommodations for the spring. Because Hassan wanted to be able to spend the two months of spring training with his fiancée and his dog, however, he budgeted “every dollar I made during that spring training” to go toward a rental for the spring.

“The reason I made that decision was so I could have some normalcy, some stability,” he said, “when I know my position in baseball lacks that.”

If he didn’t know about the instability of his position before that, anyway, he soon learned.

Spring training was barely a week old when the Orioles designated Hassan for assignment to make room on their 40-man roster for the newly signed Everth Cabrera. At a time when spring-training games were just beginning, Hassan found himself without a team -- and, more important for his career, without anywhere to take swings.

He also found himself having to break the lease on his rental in Florida. He had no choice but to stay in the Athletics’ team hotel in Arizona -- no financée, no dog.

Upon arriving in Arizona to join the Athletics, having been away from the field for almost a week, Hassan suffered a pulled hamstring. He compiled just 19 plate appearances in Cactus League play.

“I don’t know if that was why,” he said. “but I did feel like I was playing catch-up, trying to get my feet under me.”

The day before he was set to begin the season at Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville -- as he was on his way to put down a deposit for an apartment, in fact -- the Athletics signed free-agent outfielder Cody Ross and designated Hassan for assignment to make space.

When everyone else was starting the regular season, Hassan once again was in limbo. He wound up being claimed by the Texas Rangers. More than a week passed between his last spring-training game with the Athletics and his first game at Round Rock, the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate.

 

“You’re just behind,” he said. “I was talking to my hitting coach (at Round Rock) and he was asking me how I feel. I’m like, ‘Man, honestly, it’s not my mechanics. It’s not anything like that. I just feel behind.’ The frustrating thing about that is that there’s no real fix for that other than going out and playing and getting the at-bats. It’s just going to be another 20-30 at-bats. There’s nothing I can do. I can’t simulate that.”

Hassan played regularly for Round Rock for almost three weeks, coming to the plate 67 times. He hit two doubles and drove in five runs on April 19, and he hit two more doubles on April 24.

Five days later, the Rangers designated him for assignment. Oakland claimed him on Sunday and optioned him back to the same Nashville team he’d been set to join.

If no team had ever been willing to claim Hassan, he’d find himself more settled. He’d have been outrighted off a 40-man roster and be playing every day for a Triple-A team. He’d be drawing the same salary he is now as a 40-man-roster player optioned to the minor leagues.

But being removed from a 40-man roster means taking a step away from the major leagues. That Oakland still was willing to devote a 40-man-roster spot to Hassan -- for now, at least -- means the team sees him as a potential contributor.

If the Athletics need a roster spot in a few weeks, however, Hassan could see his season disrupted again.

That’s why, in an interview before Oakland claimed him on Sunday, Hassan said he wasn’t sure if he’d preferred to be claimed by another team or just be outrighted off the Rangers’ 40-man roster and allowed to stay in Round Rock.

“Do I prefer to be claimed by another team and have to break my lease and have to move my family and have to go find another apartment and take another short-term lease and get settled -- and have to perform right away, knowing you’re the last guy on the 40-man roster?”  he said. “Or would it be better to stay where you are and get some stability and hopefully play well enough to where you might earn your way back up there? I don’t know the answer to that.

“Family-wise, part of me is like, ‘Man, I just want to stay in one place. I don’t want to deal with this.’ Professionally, you never know where your best opportunity is going to come. It’s a hard, hard situation.”

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/12751620/for-major-league-baseball-pitchers-bigger-better

“14 MLB teams don't have a pitcher under 6 feet tall.”

 

As athletes get bigger, they look less and less like us

Howard Bryant, Senior Writer

PIECE BY PIECE, they cease being one of us. Money first created an impenetrable distance between the players and the public, and rightfully. In the pre-free-agent days ending in the mid-1970s, when players were exploited and discarded by management, baseball's minimum salary was $16,000, just a few thousand dollars more than the median American household. Today, as the American wage stagnates at roughly $52,000 annually, baseball's minimum salary is now $507,500, and the average salary is $4 million.

Willie Mays playing stickball with the kids on Harlem streets, Henry Aaron's kids going to public schools -- these are stories more than half a century old, Norman Rockwell quaint. Athletes, like the movie stars whose wages they've long sought to emulate, are part of the gilded class, and they're never coming back.

Yet pieces of the everyman fantasy hung on, particularly in sports such as tennis and baseball. An average-sized person with world-class hunger and ability could imagine playing in the big leagues. Dustin Pedroia and Jimmy Rollins offered hope that ballplayers were still like us.

But now, that part of the fantasy is disappearing too.

The old adage that too much height was bad for pitchers, bad for mechanics, bad for arm slots, has given way to the belief that size is essential for power and success. The average height of an American male is 5-foot-10, yet 14 MLB teams don't have a pitcher under 6 feet tall. The Yankees have one pitcher under 6-2 and boast five pitchers at least 6-7. The Cardinals have eight pitchers 6-4 or taller. Kansas City is the only team in baseball with five pitchers 6 feet or under.

"When I first came up in 2001, I used to tower over everybody," says 6-7, 285-pound CC Sabathia. "But look around this room, at Dellin [Betances, 6-8], Chris [Martin, 6-8], Andrew [Miller, 6-7], it's unbelievable."

Tennis is undergoing a similar transformation toward superathletes. In May 1990, 12 of the ATP's top 20 players were 6 feet or under; only one, Andres Gomez, was at least 6-4. Today, six of the top 20 are 6 feet or under, with six 6-4 or taller. Jimmy Connors, the all-time men's leader with 109 singles titles, was 5-10; John McEnroe was 5-11. Among today's players, John Isner is 6-10, Ivo Karlovic is 6-11 and Kevin Anderson and Jerzy Janowicz are 6-8. Only two active players 6 feet or smaller, Lleyton Hewitt and Stan Wawrinka, have won grand slam titles.

As a junior, Donald Young was considered the Next Big Thing in American tennis, and at 16, he became the youngest World Junior No. 1 in history. His pro struggles are well-documented, but the most under-discussed part of his saga is that he is barely 6 feet in a game in which McEnroe-style touch is being replaced by power. "These guys are so big you have to combat it with speed, quickness, other things," Young says. "Against some guys, you might only get one chance on their serve."

Sports are now less about drive, spirit and determination and are more the exclusive province of an exceptional athletic gene pool. Numerous theories abound, but the conventional wisdom is this: The rigors of the game, coupled with the increase in technology -- better racket strings and frames, bats, helmets, training equipment and injury-tracking data -- have led to the belief that only the bigger, faster and stronger can compete in a bigger-faster-stronger world. Nobody bets on heart alone.

Maybe there will always be room for the rare skills of a 5-11 Pedro Martinez, but even those days are dwindling.

"You better be special to not get dismissed outright," says David Cone, a 6-1 right-hander who won 194 games and five World Series titles over a 17-year career. "You always had to be special if you weren't a big guy, but today you can pretty much guarantee it's going to be much, much harder. With such an emphasis on power, I don't see that changing either."

Anecdotally, some scouts believe bigger players take longer to recover from injury, but that is just a theory. Today, executives gamble on size, which in turn will determine who gets jobs and who gets an opportunity. The inevitable result is that the distance between athletes and fans will only continue to grow too.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/12751620/for-major-league-baseball-pitchers-bigger-better

 

“the one rule that rewards athletes for going above and beyond in their academic pursuits”

 

May 1, 2015 Kevin Trahan

THE NCAA'S LATEST PETTY MOVE TO SCREW OVER ATHLETES

'Tis the season for talk of needless reforms in college football. With spring practices wrapping up and the regular season still months away, coaches and administrators can't keep themselves from blathering about something, no matter how preposterous. And this year is no exception, with everything from earnest proposals for reinstating freshman ineligibility to whining about satellite camps.

But chief among these bad ideas is the talk of eliminating the graduate transfer rule, which allows athletes who have completed their undergraduate coursework before the end of their athletic eligibility—in other words, graduating in three or four years—to transfer without sitting out a year. Here's Pac-12 Conference commissioner Larry Scott, who thinks the rule is being abused:

Scott is among a group of administrators that wants to get back to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's supposed, self-professed educational roots, yet supports the elimination of the one rule that rewards athletes for going above and beyond in their academic pursuits, all to protect highly-compensated sports coaches.

Like I said, it's a bad idea.

Many coaches and administrators want to eliminate the rule because they say it's an abuse of the system. How so? Athletes who take advantage of this rule aren't actually graduating from graduate school; moreover, they're making their graduate transfer decisions based on—gasp!— athletics, as opposed to getting, say, a MBA.

In other words, college athletes are acting a bit like their free agent professional counterparts.

In fairness to Scott and others, the argument against the graduate transfer rule would make a bit more sense if the majority of big-time high school athletes selected their undergraduate schools based on academics. Thing is, they don't. Many of their decisions—not to mention what happens in the classroom once athletes arrive on campus—are heavily influenced by sports.

No, the real reason Scott and others want to dump the graduate transfer rule is because it (slightly) inconveniences coaches—who, for once, do not have absolute power over their rosters, nor the necessary incentives to make players stay. And broadly speaking, it's no surprise that those with the power and money in college athletics will fight hard against even the slightest inkling of athletes gaining some sort of upper hand.

From a more narrow perspective, however, college sports powerbrokers would be wise to leave the graduate transfer rule alone. Why? NCAA rules are all about controlling athletes, and it is that control that has gotten schools in trouble in with the law. Northwestern University football players won the right to unionize against their school in part because the transfer restrictions in their scholarship tenders looked a lot like a non-compete clause in an employment contract. Eliminating the graduate transfer rule would just be yet another extension of that non-compete, making it that much easier for football teams at other schools teams to follow Northwestern's lead and be ruled employees.

The NCAA's membership is at a crossroads in that schools want to restrict athletes' rights, both to help them profit and to take a faux "educational" stance, but these restrictions could be devastating in federal antitrust court. Beyond the Northwestern unionization case, the NCAA's restrictions were brought up during the Ed O'Bannon trial—working against the NCAA and its member institutions by showing just how different the rules for athletes are compared to the rules for regular students, something that further dents the NCAA's increasingly futile claim that its athletes are mere students who just happen to participate in extracurricular sports because they're good at, say, playing middle linebacker.

Athletes already are subject to certain curfews and drug tests that are not applied to the rest of the student body, and they already can't play their sport for a year if they transfer, while other students are free to participate in any extracurricular after transferring. Restricting a player who graduates—which, again, is supposed to be the entire point of the multibillion-dollar big time colleges sports industry, at least when the NCAA is arguing for a de facto antitrust exemption and a bushel of tax breaks—from playing a sport at another institution brings the absurdity to another level.

Moreover, both changing the graduate transfer rule and simply talking about said change could make the courts and the public more aware of "run-offs"—players who are told by their coaches that they have to transfer to help their team's roster situation, but still have to sit out for a year. University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino is famous for doing this, and it often happens when new coaches take over, or when coaches oversign. This is common practice in college sports, but it is rarely explicitly discussed.

In recent weeks, a number of cases have highlighted how much the elimination of the graduate transfer would hurt players. While many transfers in general—like Brigham Young University basketball player Isaac Neilson—are described as voluntary, they are actually requested by coaches. That is especially true of graduate transfers, who have the eligibility to play for a final season, but haven't performed to the level that coaches want to keep them around. Without the graduate transfer rule, they would have nowhere to go.

Most graduate transfers have redshirted, and they would not be able to redshirt again; thus they would not be able to play anywhere for their final year of eligibility. While having to leave your school like a standard "run-off" transfer, such as Neilson, graduate run-offs like University of Michigan senior Max Bielfeldt would be in worse shape. With the elimination of the graduate transfer rule, he would not be able to play anywhere next year, despite the fact that the Wolverines chose not to renew his scholarship and he still has a year remaining of eligibility.

Under the new rules, it's also unlikely current Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson would be in the position he is in today. Wilson took advantage of the graduate transfer rule to leave North Carolina State University for the University of Wisconsin, where he starred. Wilson says he did not choose to leave NC State's football team, but rather was kicked offthe squad.

There's no denying that coaches have the upper hand when it comes to player transfers in general, and that makes it all the more petty when someone like Mike Krzyzewski calls the lone kind of non-restrictive transfers in college sports "a farce." In the short term, eliminating graduate transfers might make Krzyzewski's job—and Scott's—a little bit easier, since schools wouldn't have to worry about their rivals landing good players who have left or been run-off. In the long run, however, the NCAA would be hastening its own demise. The more restrictive the association makes its rules, the more damaging it is to the collegiate model of amateurism, a model that ultimately cannot survive by claiming to promote education while punishing academic success.

https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/the-ncaas-latest-petty-move-to-screw-over-athletes